Short & Sweet critic Andrea Biwer reviews If/Then with Diana Martinez of Broadway in Chicago

 
Provided by Broadway in Chicago; Video production by Tribeca Flashpoint College
Updated 3/2/2016 10:53 AM

The choices we make - big and small - have the power to radically change the trajectories of our lives. This the the prevailing theme of If/Then, a Broadway in Chicago musical, that Short & Sweet critic for the day Andrea Biwer of Mount Prospect found herself thinking about in the days after she saw the play. Beyond the deeper themes, Biwer was drawn to the music and the lead character's voice, confidence and stage presence. "[Jackie Burns'] voice is unbelievable," says Biwer.

The following review is by Diana Martinez of Broadway in Chicago:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If Then is a unique new show at the Oriental Theatre that will leave you talking about it long after the curtain comes down. The non-linear story line focuses on Elizabeth who moves to New York at 40 years old after a failed relationship to rebuild her life. The story line offers alternate endings to scenes and explores what could have been through a parallel story line.

The show also illustrates how we present ourselves differently to different people.

To her new best friend, Kate, she is "Liz", a vivacious woman who is ready for romance and burgeoning on new life and adventure in the Big Apple. To her old college friend, Lucas, she is "Beth", who has come back to New York to fight as an activist for fair housing and to heal from a broken heart in the comfort of friends. The costume designer helps the audience to clarify which side of life she is exploring by a pair of glasses that the character wears when she is "Liz".

This new age show will have a large appeal to the millennial generation who struggle with commitment and personal fulfillment. Will she return to fight as a housing activist? Or will she take a high profile job as a city planner working for her former flame? Or will she accept a date from the handsome military man she keeps bumping into? In the end the show leaves you debating questions of fate conquering all or if all the analysis and time we spend on decisions we face are a fruitless effort.

However, what is not debatable is the amazing songs and the incredible singing this show provides thanks to Jackie Burns and her powerhouse belting voice. She is a dead ringer for the Idina Menzel sound, the actress who originated the role on Broadway. She is a powerful and authentic actress that truly carries the show with song after song that requires jaw-dropping vocal athleticism. The casting of the show offers a diverse 21st century cast and features relationships that are gay, straight, lesbian, bi-racial and contemporary which is refreshing and fun, adding unique texture to the characters.

I think what I like most about the show is the variety of perspectives each audience member will take from the experience. My guest audience critic, Andrea, picked out vastly different take-aways than I. Plan to go for a drink afterward and discuss because this show provokes good conversation and interesting perspectives and interpretations.

The show runs about two and half hours with an intermission and is playing at the Oriental Theatre through March 6. It's appropriate for those 17 and up and is a great girls night out, or date night show. Don't leave this decision to fate, get your tickets and make the choice for yourself to see this complex and thought provoking show! Thanks for reading; I hope to see you at the theatre!

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